Jan Yoors, His Two Wives, and the War That Made Them One
by Debra Dean
Pub Date 15 Apr 2018
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Hidden Tapestry reveals the unforgettable story of Flemish American artist Jan Yoors—childhood vagabond, wartime resistance fighter, and polyamorous urban bohemian. At the peak of his fame in the 1970s, Yoors’s photographs and vast tapestries inspired a dedicated following in his adopted Manhattan. Though his intimate friends guessed the rough outline of his colorful life, Hidden Tapestry is first to detail his astonishing secrets.
At twelve, Jan’s life took an extraordinary and unexpected turn when he wandered into a Roma encampment on the outskirts of his native Antwerp just as the place was being raided. Rather than return home, Jan fled with the Roma and continued to live on-and-off with them and with his own family for several years. As an adult in German-occupied France, Yoors joined the Resistance. Defying repeated arrests and torture by the Gestapo, he worked first as a saboteur and later escorted Allied soldiers trapped behind German lines across the Pyrenees to freedom.
After the war, he married childhood friend Annabert van Wettum and embarked on his career as an artist. When a friend of Annabert’s, Marianne Citroen, modeled for Yoors, Hidden Tapestry reveals how the two began an affair, which led the three to form a polyamorous unit that would last for the rest of their lives. Moving to New York, the trio became part of the bohemian life of Greenwich Village in the 1950s, Marianne being presented as Annabert’s sister.
Told in arresting detail by Debra Dean, best-selling author of The Madonnas of Leningrad, Yoors’s story is a luminous and inspiring account of resilience, resourcefulness, and love.
“Debra Dean has written that unique book that is scholarly, historically important, well researched, relevant to the art world as well as the academic and general population, full of vibrant and fascinating characters, beautifully written, and somehow—almost improbably—true.” —Ann Hood, author of The Books That Matter Most and An Italian Wife